FAQ’s

Why is ham pink?

Ham is pink from the curing and salting stage.

What kind of breeds does Johnston’s pork come from?

Almost all (99%) of the female lines are Yorkshire and Landrace. Males range between Yorkshire, Duroc, Pietran and Hampshire. We do not use pure breed for market hogs, as our experience has taught us that pure breeds do not make for the best quality of pork. Breeding stock however are pure bred. We have developed the best possible pork through crossing the above stated breeds, and continue to work with the BC Producers on genetics to provide consistent, quality pork.

How are Johnston’s products “Quality?”

Humane handling practices and animal welfare are extremely important in the production of high quality pork. Fear and stress produces inferior pork, which includes being tough, watery, bland tasting with limited shelf life. Johnston’s and BC Producers’ practices of proper animal handling produces the high quality pork, which provides for tasty, tender, and beautifully coloured pork.

Is bacon fat good for you?

45 percent of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated, the good-for-you fat that can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Better still, bacon’s monounsaturated fat turns out to be oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil. So that means that some could argue that bacon is about half as good for you as olive oil and about 100 times more delicious. Of course, moderation is key here and one of the best things about bacon is that a little goes a long way.

What breed are the hogs processed at Johnston’s?

Almost all (99%) of the female lines are Yorkshire and Landrace. Males range between Yorkshire, Duroc, Pietran and Hampshire.

We do not use pure breed for market hogs, as our experience has taught us that pure breeds do not make for the best quality of pork. Breeding stock however are pure bred. We have developed the best possible pork through crossing the above stated breeds, and continue to work on genetics to provide consistent, quality pork.

Are there any growth hormones used?

There are absolutely NO growth hormones used in growing the BC hogs that are shipped to Johnston’s.

Are the piglets’ teeth cut without pain killers?

No farms that supply Johnston’s practice teeth cutting.

How old is a hog when it goes to market? Weight?

The hogs processed at Johnston’s are ready for the market normally between 5 and 6 months old and approximately 105 kg.

Where does your pork come from?

Our pork comes from BC farmers; most of them are located right here in the Fraser Valley.

Are mother sows and babies separated at birth?

No, the mama sows and baby piglets are not separated at birth.

Any use of growth hormones/medication/vaccinations on the hogs processed at Johnston’s?

There are absolutely NO growth hormones used in growing the BC hogs that are shipped to Johnston’s.

Medications are only used for specific therapeutic reasons and always under the care and direction of a veterinarian, when pigs have health problems. We want to ensure that the pigs are properly cared for and looked after. We want to ensure that they are never caused to suffer because of illness and are returned to health as soon as possible. Currently the BC producers are at minimum required to meet government withdrawal standards. In the future and as part of the Johnston’s Standards, for increased food safety and quality reasons, we will require these producers to exceed government set withdrawal periods. You can always be sure, now and in the future, that Johnston’s pork will never contain antibiotics, and that the BC hogs are healthy.

Vaccines are used to prevent many of the common pig diseases, resulting in far fewer treatments with medication. Vaccines are used to prevent such things as E. coli, pneumonia, abortion and acute diseases affecting the whole pig such as circovirus, PRRS virus and erysipelas. It is far better for the animal to prevent these sicknesses than to treat them after the fact. Vaccination programs, again under the direction of a veterinarian, and better farm management have substantially reduced the need for antibiotics or other medications.

What are the farm living conditions of the BC hogs processed at Johnston’s?

There are several types of barns in operation today, ranging from fully slatted floor, partially slatted floors and solid bedded pens. All barns are temperature controlled year round for the comfort of the animals. Pigs do not do well in cold temperatures or hot.

These hogs are never allowed to ‘run around outside’ for their own well-being. While it has and is being done in some parts of the world, it just does not make a lot of sense in our part of the world. Hogs that are allowed outside are very susceptible to parasites (which then causes a need for more medication), mortality rates are higher (remember, they don’t like and can’t withstand hot and cold), they have no defense against predators, and the bio-security of the herd would be impossible to achieve and pigs would repeatedly become infected with Avian tuberculosis. There is no good reason to raise hogs outside here in the Lower Mainland.

Barns provide a safe place and plenty of space for them to run and play and do ‘pig things!’ BC farms house as many as 200 pigs per pen, giving them plenty of opportunity for socializing, which pigs like to do. We and BC producers care, and we know that carefully raised, healthy pigs make for quality pork.

Where are these BC Producers located?

Johnston’s works with 9 hog producers in British Columbia; most are located in BC’s Fraser Valley.

Do the pigs get enough to eat and drink?

Yes, all animals at all farms have free and unrestricted access to clean water and feed 24 hours per day.

What are the living conditions like for the Hogs?

There are several types of barns in operation today, ranging from fully slatted floor, partially slatted floors and solid bedded pens. All barns are temperature controlled year round for the comfort of the animals. Pigs do not do well in cold temperatures or hot.

These hogs are never allowed to ‘run around outside’ for their own well-being. While it has and is being done in some parts of the world, it just does not make a lot of sense in our part of the world. Hogs that are allowed outside are very susceptible to parasites (which then causes a need for more medication), mortality rates are higher (remember, they don’t like and can’t withstand hot and cold), they have no defense against predators, and the bio-security of the herd would be impossible to achieve and pigs would repeatedly become infected with Avian tuberculosis. There is no good reason to raise hogs outside here in the Lower Mainland.

Barns provide a safe place and plenty of space for them to run and play and do ‘pig things’! BC farms house as many as 200 pigs per pen, giving them plenty of opportunity for socializing, which pigs like to do. We and BC producers care, and we know that carefully raised, healthy pigs make for quality pork.

What are the Johnston’s Standards?

In addition to, or as part of our own set of standards, all of our BC producers are required to be certified under the national Canadian Pork Excellence platform. All producers are third party validated. The Canadian Pork Excellence platform covers Traceability, Food Safety and Animal Care.

All producers are also required to:

  • Implement and practice Enhanced Bio-Security Standards
  • Complete an accredited Nutrient Management Program for optimal hog health
  • Complete an accredited Medication Management Program
  • Must have certification for a nationally recognized and approved Animal Care accreditation.
  • Must have a Certified Livestock Transport (CLT) ticket
Can I get H1N1 from eating or handling pork?

No, H1N1 is a respiratory illness not a food-borne illness.

How do I cook pork so it’s tender and succulent every time?

How you cook pork really depends on the cut you choose. Overcooking, or cooking at a too high temperature will cause the meat to be tough and dry. Using a meat thermometer will help to produce a moist and delicious product.

Health Canada recommends pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F/71°C, while the U.S. agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service lowered its temperature recommendation for cooking pork to 145˚F from 160˚F with a three minute resting time.

In any case, pork may still have just a hint of pink in the middle, this is ideal for instance, inside a cooked roast, or very thick chop. The exception is ground pork and sausage, which like all ground meats, must be cooked thoroughly.

How are the hogs processed at Johnston’s?

Johnston’s has very strict rules & standards for BC Producers around animal care and handling, right from the farm, to transportation, to the plant. The BC Producers and also our animal handling folks at the plant are required to be certified livestock handlers, which is obtained through a course in animal handling. In addition, they are also required to have a CLT ticket (Certified Livestock Transport). These certifications are provided through the BCFACC and the National FACC. All of the BC producers that ship to Johnston’s are required to be CQA certified (Canadian Quality Assurance).

Johnston’s takes humane care very seriously. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes for high quality pork. It would do no one (including the animals) any good if humane care and handling was not a top priority and therefore humane practices are a priority right through the entire process, from birth to processing. In addition, not only do we work closely with our own vets, we are a fully Government inspected plant.

Humane handling practices and animal welfare are extremely important in the production of high quality pork. Fear and stress produces inferior pork, which includes being tough, watery, bland tasting with limited shelf life. Johnston’s practices of proper animal handling produces our high quality pork, which provides for tasty, tender, and beautifully colored pork.

Why is the shoulder of the hog sometimes called “Picnic Ham?”

Generally, the shoulder is smoked, which gives it a very ham-like flavor. Since picnic shoulder/ham is an inexpensive substitute for real ham (which only comes from the hind legs), it’s considered to be a good cut for casual dining — such as a picnic — rather than for use at a formal family dinner, such as Easter or Thanksgiving.

Is your pork hormone free?

Our pork is raised without the use of hormones.

Terminology

Piglet: Newborn pig, weighs 1-2 kilograms

Feeder pig: Piglet after it’s weaned from the sow, also known as “weaner” pig

Farrow: When a pig gives birth

Sow: Adult female pig that has given birth

Gilt: Female pig that has not given birth

Litter: Group of piglets all nursing the same sow

Runt: Smallest piglet in the litter

Boar: Adult male pig kept for breeding purposes

Barrow: Male pig that has been neutered or castrated

Market hog: Barrow or gilt raised for meat, weighs 25-110 kg

Hog Producer: A farmer or person that raises pigs for food

Did you know…?
  • The origin of saying “Bringing home the bacon” comes from the once practice of fairs to grease a pig and let it loose among a number of blindfolded contestants. The person who successfully caught the pig could keep it and so, of course, “bring home the bacon”.
  • “Living high on the hog” originated among enlisted army men who received shoulder cuts of pork while the officers received the better top loin cuts, located “higher on the hog carcass.”
  • Pigs can reach 110 decibels when they squeal, about the same as a Boeing 747 jet at take-off.
  • Next time your parents say your room is as messy as a pig pen, you can inform them that real pigs actually like to keep clean. In fact, the pig divides its pen into sleeping, feeding and defecating areas (pooping and urinating) – very organized!
  • Did you know that over 9/10 of pig manure is water? Only 4% to 5% is solid material which includes nitrogen, phosphorus and other organic materials for fertilizing crops.
Are the pigs’ tails cut without the use of pain killers?

Very safe and effective painkillers are used when tail docking. Tail chewing can cause infections including infection of the spinal column which is generally deadly.

Are hogs processed at Johnston’s given any medication?

Medications are only used for specific therapeutic reasons and always under the care and direction of a veterinarian, when pigs have health problems. We want to ensure that our pigs are properly cared for and looked after. We want to ensure that they are never caused to suffer because of illness and are returned to health as soon as possible.

Currently the BC producers are at minimum required to meet government withdrawal standards. In the future and as part of the Johnston’s Standards, for increased food safety and quality reasons, we will require the producers to exceed government set withdrawal periods. You can always be sure, now and in the future, that Johnston’s pork will never contain antibiotics, and that our hogs are healthy.

What’s in the feed?

Johnston’s receives hogs that are grain fed (wheat, barley and corn). The primary protein sources are canola meal and soybean meal. Sow and piglet diets have added fats (vegetable oil) to increase energy level. Plenty of vitamins and minerals are added to all diets, to ensure healthy and strong pigs. We work closely with the BC Producers to ensure the best possible nutrition for the animals, while providing consistency in taste and texture of the pork.

Are your smoked products nitrate-free?

The Canadian Food and Drug Regulations require us to use a certain amount of nitrates in our products. Johnston’s uses the lowest amount of nitrates allowed under the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations.

What is fed to the BC hogs processed at Johnston’s?

The BC hogs are grain fed (wheat, barley and corn). The primary protein sources are canola meal and soybean meal. Sow and piglet diets have added fats to increase energy level. Plenty of vitamins and minerals are added to all diets, to ensure healthy and strong pigs.

What about vaccinations?

Vaccines are used to prevent many of the common pig diseases, resulting in far fewer treatments with medication. Vaccines are used to prevent such things as E. coli, pneumonia, abortion and acute diseases affecting the whole pig such as circovirus, PRRS virus and erysipelas. It is far better for the animal to prevent these sicknesses than to treat them after the fact. They are not RNA vaccinated.

Vaccination programs, again under the direction of a veterinarian, and better farm management have substantially reduced the need for antibiotics or other medications.

Why is the shoulder of the hog called the pork butt?

During the American Revolution era, pork shoulders were packed in barrels as food for the sailors. At the time, barrels of many sorts were referred to as “butts”. The term stuck, and pork shoulder became known as pork butt, despite its having nothing to do with the posterior of the pig.

The pork butt is delicious and easy to prepare. Pork butt can be roasted, cut into steaks, braised, stewed and is amazing for pulled pork.

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